If a Picture Paints a Thousand Words…
By: Mark Winter
…Why Don’t We Paint More Pictures?
Since the season of giving is upon us, allow me to offer a gift that no one has asked for: an idea.
Folks around the office are fond of poking fun at my affinity for the white board. I’m surprised no one has starting calling me the UPS man yet. Yet. (Why are you giving them MORE ammunition? — my dog)
But the way my brain works (No comment. — the dog again), visualizing solutions to a problem is FAR more productive than merely talking them out. I call it “bridging the creative chasm,” and it’s as easy as it sounds.
Though this is an admittedly simple idea, and not groundbreaking in the least, I find that far too few people employ the power of illustration when trying to define concepts or flesh out ideas.
Let me provide two examples. Say you’re having a creative brainstorm. Have you ever had the feeling that everyone in the room is talking around the same idea, but you all keep coming back to it in different iterations? You either can’t collectively decide on what the idea is, or you can’t move past it and onto other ideas. It’s because nobody has visually captured it for the group. It’s not enough for a single note-taker to collect the ideas for later review. They must all be captured on-screen for everyone in the room to see and digest—perhaps further refine—or you will get stuck there forever. Worse yet, everyone will leave the room with a different comprehension as to what the idea was to begin with.
Simply capturing the discussion in physical form will allow you to harness the best ideas, move on to the next ones, and make sure everyone in the room is in lockstep.
The second scenario I find common is when someone is trying to describe an abstract concept to someone who just isn’t getting it. Every “Imagine if…” is met with a “Wait, how would that work?” in return. Again, this is fairly mundane (one would think), but even Chris Brogan talks about the need to “draw business,” so I guess it’s worth coming back to. Take the time to draw it out. Let the listener pick it apart. Hand the marker over to them. Use the eraser. Change colors. Eventually, you will solve the problem together…or at least get on the same page! By talking through the concept, you end up talking around it…forever.
Convert the abstract into the physical. An idea is just an idea. But an illustration is a working diagram to move the project forward.
So for this holiday season, there is my gift to you: an idea. I hope it fits…but I won’t be insulted if you return it.